Should Police be able to take blood tests of those who refuse a breath test for alchohol? I am interested in your opinions.
Suspected drunk drivers who refuse to take a breath test when stopped by police in Kane County may have to give up a blood sample instead.
At least some of the time.
The pilot program — the first of its kind in the Chicago area — will allow police to quickly obtain a search warrant if a suspected drunk driver refuses a breath test, Kane County authorities said Wednesday. With the warrant, the motorist must submit to a blood test to check for alcohol or face additional charges.
The policy will be in effect on so-called “No Refusal‚” weekends when the number of drunk drivers typically is higher, prosecutors said in announcing the new program.
“It’s another weapon in the war on drunken driving,” Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti said.
Statistics show about 40 percent of suspected drunk drivers curbed by police in Illinois refuse to take breath tests — a step that typically makes it more difficult to win a DUI conviction when the drivers appear in court, Barsanti said.
The “No Refusal‚” program gives police and prosecutors another option if a motorist refuses to take a breath test. Police can rapidly obtain a search warrant that requires a driver to submit a blood sample, which then can be analyzed to determine if that driver is impaired. The test results will help prosecutors more easily obtain drunken driving convictions, Barsanti said.
“I really expect this will go well. It’s worked in other areas,” said Barsanti, who is modeling the program after one used in Harris County, Texas.
The policy, though, won’t be in force every weekend because of the manpower and effort involved. A judge must be on duty to sign search warrants and a certified phlebotomist has to be available to draw blood for testing.
“It’s a little bit involved,” Barsanti said.
Ideally, the policy will be enforced on selected weekends — though Barsanti sees it as a deterrent that might cut down on drunk driving all the time.
The program has the backing of a Chicago area advocacy group, but wasn’t well-received by defense attorneys who deal regularly with drunk-driving cases.
“We’re very, very happy they’re doing this. I think we’re going to see more drunk drivers getting convicted,” said Charlene Chapman, executive director of the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.
Aurora-based attorney David Camic predicted the policy would face legal challenges.
“The law apparently allows it, but we expect it will be heavily contested,” Camic said.